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Valais and Vaud join forces for Swiss 2026 Olympics bid

The bidding field for a potential Swiss bid for the 2026 winter Olympics has narrowed today (Thursday) after the cantons of Valais and Vaud announced they would team up to launch a joint tilt at the Games.

The cantons, located in south-west Switzerland, made the announcement at a press conference in Lausanne outlining a bid proposal under the banner of the ‘The Swiss Made Winter Games 2026’.

Swiss news agency ATS said Valais and Vaud would be the main hubs of the proposal, with Lausanne and Sion put forward as central cities. Five other cantons, including Bern, have also reportedly expressed interest in the project.

Today’s announcement comes after the Swiss Olympic Committee last month moved forward with plans to launch a bid for the 2026 Games, with president Jörg Schild stating a strong proposal from a region that also has national support is crucial in the endeavour.

A proposed bid by St Moritz and Davos to host the 2022 Games was scrapped in 2013 following a public referendum. Switzerland, despite being the home of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and numerous international federations, has only hosted the Olympics on two occasions, with St Moritz staging the event in 1928 and 1948.

A number of proposals have been put forward for a 2026 Games bid. The concept of ‘Switzerland 2026 – winter Games in Motion’ was outlined by the IG Switzerland group in February, with the idea of utilising seven regions and up to 10 cities. Under the masterplan, either Lucerne, Bern or Zurich would be utilised as a central ‘host city’.

The cantonal government of Graubünden in October voted in favour of the “development of a candidacy” with 90 of the 120 members backing the project. The Committee last month said an additional project from Geneva could also be developed.

The Committee has set May 31 as the date for initial plans for bids, with December 15 outlined as the deadline for formal submission of a bid plan. The Committee anticipates potential referendums on an Olympic bid in the first half of 2017, with a final decision expected by September 2017.

The IOC will select the winning city in 2019. PyeongChang and Beijing will host the next two editions of the Games, in 2018 and 2022.

Sion previously failed with bids for the 2002 and 2006 winter Olympics, while Lausanne’s bid for the 1994 Games didn’t make it past a referendum.